Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Story of Gabriel John

I didn't think I would have to write this story. Research shows that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage- I imagined my story to be much different; hoping if the statistic was true that the pregnancy would end before I even knew it had started.

It all started on October 17, 2015. I took a pregnancy test, hoping that it would come out positive. My period was several days late and I just "had that feeling". I watched the test and did not see a second line right away so I quickly discarded it in the trash. With it being the middle of harvest, I spent the day out on the farm- at one point getting to drive the combine for an hour. I talked with my mother-in-law about the disappointment of not receiving a positive test. Later that evening, I went back home and something nudged me to take the test out of the trash. Sure enough, there were two lines, showing me that I was indeed pregnant. I immediately called my mother-in-law exclaiming the news and waited for Kyle to get home from farming to tell him. The next morning I took another test to confirm and received another positive test. We headed to church and midway through the service something didn't seem right. I went to use the restroom and discovered what appeared to be my period. Being so early on, my doctor said to just keep an eye on my blood loss and expect my period to be a bit heavier and longer than usual. It lasted 15 long days.

The next month, my period did not arrive right away. We were not actively trying to conceive so I did not expect a positive test. I opted for a digital test this time and received a positive test on Black Friday, November 27 (the same day I discovered I was pregnant with Isaac)! I called my doctor hoping to get right in to ensure my levels were all on track- they scheduled me an appointment on December 14th.

In the meantime, my pregnancy symptoms were right on track. I was tired, hungry, and feeling sick all throughout the day. My stomach was slowly starting to grow and I wasn't sure how much longer I would be able to keep it a secret. On my December 14th appointment, I was expecting to be around 7 weeks pregnant. The doctor was able to squeeze me in for an ultrasound that day and we soon discovered I was closer to 11 weeks pregnant. My heart sank; I knew something was not right. I kept asking the ultrasound technician why I bled for 15 long and hard days while I was actually pregnant the whole time. No one could provide an answer- my ultrasound appeared normal and baby was happily moving around inside the womb.

Later that evening, I attended a school board meeting. Upon getting up to leave, I felt a rush of liquid and knew something wasn't right. I called the Emergency Room but no one wanted to see me because I was "too early on" for a "viable pregnancy". I went to bed that night thinking that my baby was gone. The next morning, I went to work as normal and scheduled an appointment for later that day. A pelvic exam showed a closed cervix and no signs of any "products of conception". An ultrasound following the appointment showed a healthy, happy, and growing baby. I was at a loss for what was occurring. The ultrasound technician, not able to say anything at the time, noted a large blood clot between my baby and the cervix. My doctor could not provide an explanation for why my body had produced such a large blood clot nor could he give assurance on a continued pregnancy. It was such a difficult thing to experience: wanting to share the news of the pregnancy but knowing that it may not last.

My body continued to show signs of a healthy pregnancy: fatigue, growing stomach, and sick feeling. On Christmas Eve, I wanted one last appointment to hear the heartbeat before telling extended family over Christmas. My doctor squeezed me into the clinic and let me listen for a long while to the baby. His heart was beating around 180 beats per minute. I cried during that appointment- maybe I knew deep down it would be the last time I would hear that sound.

The next day, Christmas Day, we celebrated at Kyle's parents house. I told his sisters that I was expecting and was around 13 weeks but ended my announcement with a BUT.... It was hard and emotional but I am glad that I told them. A little while after supper, I began to feel uncomfortable. I wasn't sure if the tightness of my stomach was related to eating too many sweets and still squeezing into my regular clothes or if my body was having contractions. I told Kyle we needed to head home. On the drive home, I sent a text message to my good friend that I had a strange sense of peace and thought things would be over soon. As much as I longed for this baby, I also had this uneasy/anxious feeling all day. After getting Lauren and Isaac to bed, I laid in my bed for awhile and realized that I was having contractions about 1 minute apart. They were requiring my attention and slightly painful. I went to the restroom and passed two very large clots. I wasn't sure if my body was going into labor or just ridding itself of the clots (which my doctor said may happen). I read a book to Miles, tucked him into bed, and told Kyle to get some sleep as I anticipated it being a long night. Around 11:00pm, I went to the restroom again and delivered our precious 13 week old baby.

No one can prepare you for a moment like that. To go into labor, deliver a tiny baby, and then have to decide what to do next. I woke Kyle up and we stared in awe at our precious boy. At his ten fingers and toes, the tiny umbilical cord, his nostrils, lips, eyes, and precious arms and legs. Everything about him was perfect. We called the Emergency Room to be told that we were not to come in unless I was soaking more than 1 pad in an hour. So, there we sat, in the living room, starting at each other, while our small baby lay on a hanky on the kitchen table. Within about 30 minutes, I had soaked through 4 post-partum pads and we worried with my blood clots and low iron. A friend came over to sleep on the couch and keep an eye on the kids while we drove the 2 blocks to the hospital with the baby in my purse. The ER Doctor was able to remove the rest of the clots and it was determined that we would send the baby into the lab for testing. We got home around 3am and tried to sleep.

The kids were awake bright and early and wanting to keep a sense of normalcy, we drove the two hours to the scheduled Christmas party at my parent's house. We told each other funny stories on the drive, sang to the radio, and tried to completely push aside what happened just hours before. My heart ached inside knowing that I would eventually have to tell my family that not only was I just pregnant but that our baby had just left us. Physically, my body needed to heal as well. We made it through the majority of the day, I only stepped outside once to cry and finally near the end of our visit I told my family. When my family later posted pictures of the day on Facebook, I could just see the tired hurt in my eyes.

The next day, we slept in, skipping church and lounging at home. I probably shouldn't have traveled the day prior and my body was rejecting me because of that. Later that afternoon, I felt something odd and decided another visit to the ER was in order. I left Kyle at home with the kids and went in by myself. The ER Doctor and nurses treated me much different this time around- providing sympathy for my loss. I later realized that many of the medical professionals that night had never seen a tiny baby in person and thus couldn't relate to what I was feeling. It was discovered that my placenta had not yet come out so the doctor and nurse were able to help it do so. In the matter of 24 hours, I had lost half a liter of blood. There was talk of a blood transfusion if my numbers continued to decrease. Thankfully, at a blood draw 3 days later, my numbers had increased a tiny bit.

The pathology report came back with no abnormalities and confirmed our suspicions that the baby was a boy. We named him Gabriel John Rouse. Gabriel for the Christmas angel and John after my paternal great grandfather. Christmas Day 2015, one I will never forget.

Each day gets better- knowing my body and soul are slowly healing but still trying to process what happened. Sometimes I imagine what I would look like if the pregnancy had continued or what names we would be adding to our list. I posted a partial picture of Gabriel on Instagram and Facebook. As much as I am a private person, it was a hurt I could not continue any longer and needed to make known. We keep trusting that God has not only a plan for this experience but also our future.


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